Tracking is required to ascertain the user’s position and orientation in order to ensure that thecorrect virtual images, which relate to the users direction and positioning, are rendered. There areseveral different methods that can be used to track the users positioning details to give accurate placement data to ensure digital information is being displayed correctly at all times. In a closedenvironment, e.g. indoors, optical trackers – LEDs or reflectors for instance – can be attached to thetracked person or object, and an array of optical sensors can be embedded in the room’s ceiling (Fenier 2002), which allows accurate tracking of a person/object. While this is useful in a controlledenvironment such as indoors, in an uncontrolled environment, such as outdoors it will not be thatuseful. However, other technologies can be used to produce accurate tracking, the most widely used of these are the combination of a Global Positioning System (GPS), gyroscope and accelerometer. TheGPS is used to locate the exact location of the user, the gyroscope is used as a compass to ascertainorientation of the user and the accelerometer is used to show changes in direction. When these threeelements are combined together they can provide quite an accurate tracking system.The ARToolKit is an AR development kit that has been produced to help users develop AR programs. Dr. Hirokazu Kato initially developed the software library, and it is being supported, andcontinues to be developed, by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) at the Universityof Washington, HIT Lab NZ at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and ARToolworks, Inc,Seattle. The software library is an open source development distributed free of charge for non-commercial use. The tool kit has helped in the production of many different software programsincluding software to aid in the assembly of furniture, a music interface and a history book that iscapable of displaying virtual imagery to the reader (once wearing appropriate eyewear).
The final element of an AR system is the computing required to process all of the informationthat is to be digitally rendered into the users view. This is obviously a vital part of the AR system as theimages being displayed will need to be constantly monitored and updated to ensure they are correctwhich will require a considerable amount of computing power.In the past the available technologies meant that systems like this were both large andexpensive but reducing costs and improvements in technologies have greatly helped to reduce both sizeand cost of systems and allow for improved mobility of systems.
Over the past decade AR has really started to blossom and many interesting uses for thetechnology have been found, and indeed new and exciting uses are being developed all the time. This paper aims to give a small overview on some of the uses for AR in the areas of commercial, consumer and military uses.
3.1 Commercial uses
As mentioned earlier, the term Augmented Reality was coined by workers at Boeing who weredeveloping the technology to help in the production of wiring harnesses. Since then several other firmshave found that AR provides them with the ability to increase productivity, cut costs and improve product quality and have implemented AR systems to benefit from these possibilities.